By Rosie Alger
Elm Staff Writer
The Video Music Awards were this past weekend, and amidst all the press and internet attention, there is certainly a lot to talk about. One thing many people aren’t talking about, however, is Laci Green’s red carpet interview. Green is a feminist YouTube star whose mission is to provide sex education to the masses through the power of the internet. She is forward and extremely honest about many gender, sexuality, and feminist issues that have been, for a long time, widely ignored or silenced. Speaking at the VMAs and getting her own web series for MTV marks a new surge of popularity and recognition for Green. More people, it seems, are listening and talking about safe sex and other related issues.
Green isn’t the only one fighting for improvements to sex education. John Oliver recently did an episode of “Last Week Tonight” that centered on the many problems that arise from the relatively unregulated sex education system set up in the United States. Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia recently made amendments to their sex education program, now teaching about the gender spectrum and fluid sexuality. According to an article by “Education News,” many parents were upset about the changes, but the school system went through with them in order to comply with the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
This marks a momentous occasion for progress in sex education. As Oliver explained in his segment, sex ed is one of the least federally regulated subjects that students learn in school. Each state has their own policies about what they should and should not teach. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states require that sex education be taught in public schools. Twenty of those states require that schools include information about HIV, and only 19 states require that if sex education is taught, the information be medically accurate. This means that many schools across the nation can and do teach their students lies as scare tactics in an effort to prevent them from having sex. I read a book entitled “Full Frontal Feminism” that gave an example: in some curricula, schools teach that condoms will give you cancer if used too often. This inaccurate information and many other similar curriculum are being taught to thousands of young students, making it extremely difficult for them to stay safe and consider their own sexuality and gender.
Clearly, the issue of how we should be presenting sex education is very controversial. While some are dead set against change, others are pioneering for a more inclusive and wide ranging educational experience. Despite ever looming social setbacks, the presence of people like Green in the mainstream media does give me hope. If even a handful of young teens watching the VMAs on Sunday listened to her speak honestly about safe sex those kids will have a better chance of staying healthy than many students across the country. If you would like more information about Green, or want to watch some of her informative and funny videos, go to youtube.com/LaciGreen.